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| | Drop-In Disaster: Making Lemonade

Author / Cali Hinzman

I recently had one of the worst training experiences of my life.  I know what you’re going to say; “Whoa there, drama queen. Take it easy.”  But I am serious as a heart attack.  The exact heart attack I nearly had when I dropped in at a gym last weekend.  Let me preface this by saying that I have had the good fortune to travel all around the globe and visit all kinds of training facilities.  Most of those experiences have been overwhelmingly positive which make my recent episode all the more jarring.

The gym did not resemble a crime scene, frat house, or the set of any of the Saw movies.  The staff was not rude, egotistical, or unkempt.  The other patrons were not assholes, hateful, or Dennis Rodman (I’ve met him and he is a complete douche).  If you’re a fairly novice “athlete” or potential gym member, these are the things you’re going to notice.  If you are a coach, experienced lifter, or educated in S&C, you’re thinking – "I don’t care if the bathroom is clean, is my training going to improve here?"


Caveat: I don’t’ think that one visit to a gym is enough to write the whole program off.  However, I do think my dad was on to something when he said “You only have one chance to make a first impression”.  Which is why when I initially went to the CFFB Seminar as an attendee in 2009, I made sure to ask no less than 1,000 questions and style my hair differently on both days.  The point is, although you are experiencing a fraction of a given program, certain elements should always exist that indicate that the system is effective as a whole.

We have had a lot of great guests on Power Athlete Radio recently who have all expressed a sentiment of basically growing into your own as a coach.  We have provided countless tools to you, Power Athlete Nation, to empower you to better assess and progress athletes by way of screening movement or becoming a Power Coach.

However, beyond all that are some broad concepts that I’ve come to learn through coaching, leading seminars, and being in countless gyms that tie the entire experience together.  I'm talking about a few aspects of training that are so fundamental that regardless of how far along in your career in S&C you are, you can refer back to periodically to ensure  the “See the forest for the trees” mantra is still active.

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Cali Hinzman

A strength and conditioning coach since 2009, Cali has worked with numerous athletes spanning from rugby players to cross country skiers. Almost immediately after finding CrossFit in 2010, she was introduced to a program that better suited her athletic goals. With her existing background in powerlifting and football, she became a natural devotee to CFFB/PowerAthlete and testament to it's effectiveness. In 2012, she left D.C. and headed for the state named after her to be a part of the CrossFit Football Seminar Staff and a Jedi of Power Athlete HQ. Cali currently resides in Seattle where she works full time in law enforcement.


  1. bernie on February 13, 2015 at 3:44 am

    Thumbs up for this article!

  2. DavidMck on February 13, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Third picture down, @cali looks she has her “don’t bullshit me and say what I know you’re about to say” face on.

    • CALI on February 18, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Haha. That is always my natural expression. In reality, I was thinking – holy shit, these translators are jamming up my comedic timing.

  3. Ingo B on February 13, 2015 at 8:17 am

    You forgot the NKOTB shirt.

    1. Ask a 1000+ questions
    2. Change your hairstyle each day
    3. Wear your NKOTB shirt

  4. dtadams0210 on February 13, 2015 at 9:44 am

    Awesome Points.
    One of the greatest lessons I ever learned is that as a leader, your people will only be committed as you are. If you want your athletes to be committed and put out and work on getting better movement, then you have to be twice as committed to helping them so it.

    • CALI on February 18, 2015 at 11:52 am

      Could not have said it better myself. Reminds me of when I first moved to California and was training with the class at Balboa, Ben was coaching. I was a good coach but I did, and do, have a long ways to go. I never had an issue committing to perfect movement but instead, I struggled with little things like coming in from the last run in a workout. In that class, I bent over and put my hands on my knees, wheezing. Ben immediately came over and said “Get your hands off your knees, stand up and set an example.” I got the point. I stood up and started to coach others even though I was still dying. Back to my point – “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”

  5. Nono on February 13, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Thank you so much Cali. I feel comforted after knowing shitty gyms/coaches are not just a spanish problem…

    • CALI on February 18, 2015 at 11:44 am

      Hahaha. Unfortunately not. Mediocrity is an international problem.

  6. Michael Nichol on February 13, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Great article as always! Thanks!

  7. Tony Fu on February 13, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Great article, I’m fairly confident that you’re not talking about my old gym but the similarities are endless. I operate under the premise that eventually people wise up and those that are serious go else where.

    • CALI on February 18, 2015 at 11:42 am

      Well said. You have to hold a standard.

  8. shredalert on February 15, 2015 at 7:55 am

    @cali I dig the honesty in this blog. If you ever grace our gym and IF I’m a complete nerf-herder, you have my permission to go full throttle Pai Mei on me.

    • CALI on February 18, 2015 at 11:24 am

      I know.

  9. Zigg on February 19, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Great article, have you thought about a 2 cents article on how to structure a gym (meaning location of rig/weightstacks to racks distance, etc) that is conducive to weightlifting and powerathlete style training?

  10. dangersilver on February 20, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    “Keep it up!”

    “Good work.”

    I have watched this exact “coaching” scenario play out in various out door groups and gyms countless times. It is absolutely brutal and, unfortunately, rampant. I’ll keep to myself further thoughts on the matter, but I loved the article.

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